MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte said on Sunday, April 29, that a ban on Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) from heading to Kuwait that had been in effect since 2018 of February would now be permanent, provoking a controversy triggered by complaints of the abuse of a Filipina housemaids and workers in the the middle east country.
Kuwait on Wednesday, April 25, expelled the Philippine ambassador to aforementioned country and recalled its own envoy from Manila over the disagreements. The highly shocking action came as a surprise in Kuwait, an oil-rich territory that has been both a long target of Duterte administration’s criticism and heavily reliant on Filipina nannies and domestic helpers.
“The ban stays permanently,” President Duterte said at a news briefing in Davao City after arriving from Singapore, where he attended Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) Summit. “There will be no more recruitment for especially domestic helpers. No more.”
The two countries had been negotiating a conclusion of the ban, which the Philippine government imposed following the shocking discovery back in February of Joanna Demafelis, a Filipino domestic worker found into a freezer in Kuwait City.
But the arrest of two Filipino nationals associated with the embassy last week over reportedly convincing domestic helpers to flee their employers‘ homes and Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa’s remarks reported in Kuwaiti media over the effort seems to have been too much for Kuwaiti nation to accept.
The Philippine government called Kuwait’s eventual decision “deeply disturbing,” claiming it “reneged” on an earlier agreement to work together.
Duterte said that OFWs already in Kuwait could stay in the nation should they wished, adding that the Philippine government would try to assist those who wish to go back home and resettle in the Philippines.
There have been a number of notable cases of abuse of Filipino domestic workers in the past years, including an incident in December 2014 where a Kuwaiti’s pet lions fatally attacked a Filipino housekeeper.
Since occupying the presidency, Duterte has repeatedly criticized Kuwait for not properly addressing issues on abuse of OFWs.
The Philippines banned OFWs entirely from entering Kuwait after the shocking discovery of Demafelis’ body in a freezer in February 2018.
More than 260,000 OFWs are working in Kuwait, many of them are housemaids. Kuwait and the Philippines have since been discussing terms for new regulations governing Filipino workers there.
The Philippines is a major labor exporter worldwide, most especially in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, with about a tenth of more than 100 million Filipinos working abroad. The earnings they throw back home have strengthen the Philippine economy for decades. — Centrionews.com